After my last glowingreviews of Twilight: New Moon, I had planned to give the series a rest. Some of its fans insisted that all of my questions and accusations were fully explained in the third and fourth books (and a couple questions by Meyer’s website), so I read them.
The final half of the series was not as annoying as New Moon but, before I go any further, I would like to remind you of the origins of the word “pornography:”
1857, “description of prostitutes,” from Fr. pornographie, from Gk.pornographos “(one) writing of prostitutes,” from porne “prostitute,” originally “bought, purchased” (with an original notion,probably of “female slave sold for prostitution;” related to pernanai “to sell,” from PIE root per- “to traffic in, to sell,” cf. L. pretium “price”) + graphein “to write.” Originally used of classical art and writing; application to modern examples began 1880s. Main modern meaning “salacious [lustful] writing or pictures” represents a slight shift from the etymology, though classical depictions of prostitution usually had this quality.
The original word dealt with written or drawn forms of prostitutes intended for lust, and the meaning has gradually dropped the “prostitute” implication in general usage. Given the detailed descriptions of Edward and Jacob’s bodies, and the descriptions of the effect on the main character, I have come to the conclusion that this series is pornographic. I will deal with it as such, so take warning if you are squeamish.
For the first three books (Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse), Bella is trying to have sex with Edward (she marries him in book four, Breaking Dawn). Her dad is worried about her and finally confronts the issue in Eclipse, where Bella is mortally embarrassed and says she is still a virgin and that there are no plans to change that. Only a few pages over she has tried to get his clothes off while kissing him and he stops her. The reason he gives is the same one that has existed through the first two books—that he is stronger and can not guarantee her safety.
In Eclipse, this issue is strained enough that a second point is made. Edward is concerned for Bella’s “virtue.” And all the conservative girls sigh happily because Edward wants to wait until marriage. This could be true except that Edward initiates several situates that stop just short of having the actual intercourse sans clothing. All the foreplay is there.
More of the story behind the “werewolves” (which turn out to be “shape shifters” instead during the final chapters of Breaking Dawn) begins to emerge, and we learn that it originally evolved as a defensive action in Jacob’s tribe.
There is also something akin to “love at first sight,” only stronger. This is called “imprinting,” and Jacob wants to “imprint on” Bella. This does not happen and they discuss the notion that if vampires did not exist then they would be perfect for each other, but since they do Bella is going to choose Edward.
This is one example of the sorts of non-sexual annoyances that I see. With sci-fi and/or fantasy novels, the common expectation is that you get one special allowance and then you try to bend the rest of the logical world around it. For this being a world filled with a sort of “magic,” the logical building blocks are horrible. If their “magic” did not exist, then Jacob’s tribe would have been run off long before and he still would not have a chance with Bella. The existence of vampires in the story is really a moot point for him, but he allows it to make him into a jerk anyway.
So Breaking Dawn comes along and Bella finally gets married, as though we totally could not see that coming from the first book. They go on their honeymoon and Bella gets pregnant the first night. This is not explicitly stated, but either Meyer really doesn’t know how women get pregnant or this is what transpired (I’ve read Dr. Billings).
Anyway, the baby is half-vampire and half-human. She can grow up with a beating heart but also has the vampire’s strength and a few other special features. That poses a problem for the expectant mother, who has to be turned into a vampire immediately post-partum as an attempt to keep her alive.
Edward gets extremely annoying in his quest to never turn Bella down for anything.
Bella is lauded for her ability to control herself better than other “new born vampires.” Somehow the idea is promoted that she has a gift for self-control. This is completely absent in every one of her interactions with Edward, which is half of the series.
The descriptions of the honeymoon is not quite so bad as what comes after Bella becomes a vampire. The picture given then is of not getting tired from their marital relationship (super-human strength and endurance).
Oh, but wait! The vampire “police” learn about the child and, since children-turned-vampire cannot be trained, they take this opportunity to attempt the destruction of Edward’s large family and to incorporate its strengths into their own coven.
During this confrontation Bella discovers that she is one of the most powerful “defensive” vampires alive. She can repel attacks on the mind—not just for herself, but for their entire army of vampires and shape shifters. This strikes fear into the no-longer-beating hearts of the attacking vampire lords, and she can’t help but antagonize the offensive fighters on the other side.
Between this and the requirement that the lords at least appear to uphold justice, the accusing side decides to retreat from the fight.
Bella goes back with Edward and lets him read her mind for the first time (even though she can’t read his). Curtains close. Finally.
There were a few loose ends from the series:
* Alice, the vampire that can see the future, does not foresee Bella becoming pregnant even though she plans part of the honeymoon. This will be passed off as her blindness to the infant (even post-birth), but that infant has a big effect on Bella’s life.
* A connection is never made for certain over whether Bella’s “self-control” is supposed to be the same as her mental block. Pardon the pun, and vampires are only allowed one special ability in Meyer’s world.
* Antagonizing the star fighters of an opposing army, and then letting them walk away is not such a smart ending for a series.
* Okay, so vampires know that they can stop breathing in order to avoid smelling the blood around them. Why didn’t Edward do this at the beginning?
* Every fluid created by the human body is turned into some sort of poison when they become a vampire, according to Meyer’s website. How is it that kissing, and more intimate actions, did not poison Bella? Or maybe they did and that explains her brainless reactions.
* Jacob imprinted on Bella’s baby. Yep, it was a bad case of puppy love. The pack now has two rules that are in conflict—they exist to kill human predators (of which the baby is one), and they are not to kill the object of a “brother’s imprinting.” How does the second cancel out their primary purpose for existence?
Speaking of Jacob imprinting on Bella’s infant, there is another shape shifter that does the same thing and we still have not seen an adequate explanation of the mental differences between Bella and Edward. Bella’s mom said her daughter was never a teenager mentally, so apparently Mom spaced out all of New Moon. It wasn’t a valid explanation. At least some people think that this is part of an apology, or explanation, for Meyer’s beliefs as a Mormon.
Incidentally, it occurred to me during book three that the last name “Cullen” comes from combining “cull” and “coven.” Meyer has shown an interest in combining words or names to make new ones.
Now can we exchange the X-Men characters back to their comic strip and get rid of all the growling wolves and hissing vamps?